I’ve been asked, “How is your approach to history any different from anyone else’s?” My
answer is…”I don’t write history, Instead, I write about the lessons we can learn from
history so that we can all be better people and better citizens.” Here’s an example of how
I differ from the way history is taught in our schools. The example I will use is in the person
known as Robert E.Lee.
A typical history class would say that Robert E Lee was defeated at the Battle of Gettysburg
in 1863 after a disastrous charge on the 3rd day of the battle. Okay… I just told you a neutral
fact. Yes…it actually happened but how does a student react to a neutral fact? “So what?
Why? Because there’s no emotional connection being made to Robert E. Lee
or to the event in which he participated.
So, how do you make that connection? By making history emotional, relevant, and personal.
How do I do that? The answer has been hidden in plain sight for years.
It’s found in stories, and we remember facts better when we are emotionally connected to them.
Here’s how I present Robert E Lee in my book and in my videos:
After Lee’s forces were defeated on the last day of the battle, his retreating troops came
limping back, all bloodied and screaming in pain. At the awful sight of his
defeated men, this man who was considered the greatest military officer on both sides of the
Civil War, he went to his men and said, “This is my fault, this is all my fault.”
He knew his decision to have his men make a disastrous attack on the enemy was a
huge mistake. From this little story, what lesson does a 15-year-old student learn from
He learns that taking responsibility for your own mistakes avoids the need to justify a
wrong decision increases your credibility among friends, builds trust, sets the right tone
for open communication, and makes you more approachable.
It’s so much easier to be taken seriously when it counts. History is now emotional
because it’s relevant and personal to that student.
What else does the student get from this story? He learns how to build character.
But what is character? It’s a commitment to a set of values that never changes.
So what is the value a student learns from Robert E. Lee?
He learns HONESTY. To be honest is a good thing. It makes you a better person and
it makes people trust you for your opinions and your actions.
Here’s the bottom line: we can now teach history as an exercise – not in the boring
presentation of neutral facts and statistics – but in the development of personal character.
We can teach a value like honesty and all its advantages…by way of a story and the
life lessons we can take from that story, and doing it with videos.
I go one step further in my videos. After each story and lesson are displayed on the screen,
I ask relevant questions that relate back to the story of Robert E.Lee. “When was the last time you
took responsibility for your actions?”
Or, “How did your friends respond to your admission of a mistake?” Or, “How did your
friends respond when you wouldn’t admit your mistake?”
When students can relate and answer these questions that help them to acknowledge
qualities about themselves they didn’t think they had, like the advantages of being honest,
they come to feel better about themselves and their possibilities, which means their
self-esteem increases with each lesson, and by learning values, they become better
people and better citizens.
Your child can look in the mirror after making a mistake and be able to say, glad to say,
“it was my fault. It was all my fault.” Isn’t that what we want for our children? For example,
to be honest, to value being honest, not be mention having a commitment to a set of
values that make them independent, responsible, motivated, and self-reliant?
My book and the video version show you how to do it. show you exactly how I do it.
Go to my website to get your copy of my book and the first volume of videos.